Sunday’s ATP World Tour action sees the titles decided in week 30’s three ATP 250 events in Gstaad, Umag and Atlanta.
There’s also qualifying for next week’s hard court 500 in Washington and the same on the clay in Kitzbuhel.
I’ll certainly be glad to see the back of this no-mans land of a mini-season wedged in between the grass swing and North American hard court US Open Series when the calendar changes in 2015.
From next year we can go straight from grass in Newport to hard with only really week 29 as stop gap between the two surfaces.
Hopefully that will avoid the necessity to keep switching surfaces and we’ll be able to avoid some of the bizarre antics that we’ve witnessed this week.
Robin Haase looked like he would give some value for money yesterday when he went 3-0 up in set one, only to lose six straight games.
The Dutchman also went an early break up in set two, but was broken back and with his tie break record Haase was never likely to come through a breaker.
At least those on the unders in the Jack Sock vs John Isner match in Atlanta would have arrived at the payout queue, as the two American friends played out another two setter in the heat.
There was no play in Umag at all yesterday, due to rain and that means that the semi-finals and final will be played today in Croatia.
It also means that Pablo Cuevas will have a better chance of beating Fabio Fognini after a day off following his exertions in singles and doubles, so I’d be tempted to back the Uruguayan there, but this is still a match involving Fognini, so I think I’ll pass.
John Isner vs Dudi Sela – Live on Unibet TV
The Atlanta final, at around 21:00 UK time tonight is the only really viable match to look at today, with Gstaad’s final starting early and looking a real coin-toss anyway.
Sela will have to bring his chair on court for the handshake at the end of this one, as he did with Ivo Karlovic in Bogota after losing in two tie breaks to the big man in that one and the result will probably be much the same.
The diminutive Israeli stands at around 5’9” tall (175 cm) and today he faces a serving machine standing a solid 6’10” (210 cm) and this isn’t good news for Dudi in this David vs Goliath clash.
Isner has been going about his business as usual this week, which is to slouch around the court looking physically gone and not playing particularly well into the bargain – but he gets the results thanks to that supreme serve and a clutch mentality.
He’s determined to win this title in his alma mater state of Georgia and having dumped one Atlanta favourite, Donald Young, out of the tournament earlier in the week, Sela takes on the role of villain again today.
Sela overturned a 0-4 head-to-head career series record against Benjamin Becker over last night with a three set victory and Dudi fans will be pleased to know he’s not the shortest player to have taken Isner on in an ATP World Tour final.
That honour goes to the 5’6” (168 cm) Olivier Rochus in the Newport final of 2011 in a clash that Isner ran out a 6-3, 7-6 winner in.
It’s only Sela’s second final at tour level and in his first, which was back in 2008, he faced a big-serving American on a hard court too in a three set loss to Andy Roddick in Beijing.
Conditions here suit the Isner serve perfectly, with the ball kicking high off the surface and it’s hard to see how Sela can win this match unless Isner is very much below par for any reason.
John is playing his 18th tour level final today and he has won eight of the previous 17 and his worst loss in terms of pure ranking was the defeat to Mardy Fish here in 2010 when Fish was ranked at 49.
So, he’s never lost to a non top-50 player in a tour level final and against players of Dudi’s stature Isner has a 23-8 winning record.
The eight defeats came against David Ferrer (five times), David Goffin, Jesse Levine and Ricardo Mello, but on a hard court only Ferrer and Goffin have beaten him.
As for Sela, his record against tall opponents isn’t great, with a 12-22 record against opponents over 6’4” in height and that falls to 8-16 on a hard court.
Against this opponent Sela has a 0-2 record and famously he has won just one set in 17 against Ivo Karlovic, so big servers aren’t his favourite opponents.
With the vast majority of matches here ending in two sets this week this looks another and the 2-0 to Isner at around 1.71 looks the call.
Back Isner to beat Sela 2-0 at 1.71